The Healing Library > Articles > Overcoming My Biggest Trigger
Overcoming My Biggest Trigger
I wrote this in Feb of 2002, a few days after Valentines Day and 2 mos before our 3 year anniversary of Rday. It has many significant elements in the story that just might be beneficial to read, whether you are in the beginning stages or the latter stages of healing.
I have waited to post this until after mine and my H's therapy visit on Monday. I wanted some clarity and confirmation on some things before I posted. I realize that this is very long, but I hope that you will be able to read it in its entirety.
Valentines Day is difficult for most of us who have experienced infidelity . We all have our share of Vday horror stories. For me, it is remembering the hurt and pain of a V day in 1997 when he was seeing the OW and their relationship was only 5 months old. Although, I wouldn’t learn of this until 2 years later.
He arranged a business trip, so that he could be with her and take her to lunch…she lives up North and we live in the South. He bought her flowers and gifts, but he made sure to be home for Valentines evening with me. He, however, failed to make dinner reservations for us, so my H and I and our son drove all over town trying to find a restaurant with available seating, but there was none . We ended up eating at Denny’s. I still remember my hurt and disappointment. At the time, I couldn’t understand why he had not planned ahead…why it wasn’t a priority. I felt so hurt that evening.
We have spent 23 V days together, yet that one sticks in my mind. V day triggers that memory.
I have a choice to make once I have that trigger…will I let it overwhelm me or will I overcome it?
I chose to overcome that trigger and reclaim V day. I spent most of the day Wed. preparing for V day on Thursday. I went shopping for something fabulous to wear. I bought several new outfits. I gave myself a manicure and a pedicure. I tanned my entire body. I dyed my eyelashes again. I bought my H an appropriate card and a box of his favorite Godiva chocolates.
My H had planned ahead and made reservations for our favorite restaurant and since we are regulars there, the owner allowed me to decide which soup they were going to serve that evening. I picked Chicken cilantro which is one of my favorites.
When I awoke on Vday, I went downstairs to my H’s office and he presented me with a bouquet of red roses. They were beautiful. He told me that he need to run out and pick up a card for me, but he returned with a shopping bag. He wasn’t gone very long, so how did he get to the mall and buy a gift for me???? Didn’t make any sense…????
We got ready for dinner and arrived at the restaurant where he let me out at the door. When he came in, he was carrying a gift wrapped dress sized box. We had our photo taken at the restaurant and received the usual VIP treatment. We got a real kick out of watching the other diners eat MY soup!
My H told me how much he loved me and that he felt that everyday with me was Vday. He didn’t feel that this day was any more special than all our days together these last 3 years since dday. He reaffirmed to me that he intends to continue loving me everyday and constantly showing me his love. He apologized for the past and told me that he was so sorry for hurting me.
We were having such a wonderful time. We discussed my Vday triggers and even talked about how the OW was probably spending the day alone and miserable. She may have shared one Vday with him, but I had shared 23 and I had a lot more wonderful ones to come.
The dinner was great and we were having a fabulous time. We had decided that I would open the gift before dessert. He asked me if I knew what was in the box and I guessed lingerie, in my mind I was thinking "at least I know it isn’t diamond earrings". For those that know me and know my story, my H gave the OW a cheap pair of diamond earrings, so he knows from our discussion with the therapist, he cannot give me diamond earrings until I am ready for that…if I am ever ready for that!!! Diamond earring ads and commercials are big triggers for me.
I opened the large box to find another long skinny gift wrapped box. I immediately thought "Oh no!!! It is this emerald and diamond bracelet that he got me to try on several weeks ago. " I thought that it was too expensive…I feel that it is important for you to know that it was into 5 figures…I am not freaking out over something small. (As I just re read this, I realized that I am trying to justify my bad reaction.)
I hesitated before opening the box and took a deep breath. How will I react when I see it? Can I act excited??? Will my face give me away??? I was so scared.
One of the things that I have had to work on since dday was being able to accept gifts from my H…to be able to accept expensive gifts from my H…to be able to buy myself expensive clothing. I had spent years of our marriage denying myself things. I never felt worthy of getting things.
I no longer worked outside the home, I was simply a wife and mother…what made me worthy of greatness. My H would buy me things and I would return them.
Since dday, I have learned that by denying myself, I am actually denying my H the pleasure of giving. The years of self sacrifice had only served one purpose and it was a very negative one. He began to receive pleasure from giving gifts to the OW. A piece of trash was reaping the rewards of my personal sacrifices. This revelation cut like a knife.
I have actually bragged recently about how far I had come. I had shared my shopping expeditions to my favorite boutiques with other members. I reveled in fact that I had been spending a ton of money on myself. Whatever affliction I had about spending money on myself was finally gone!!! I was sooooooooo cured…
Then the bracelet box was staring me in the face…I felt like Daniel…I was staring into the face of the lion…
My H gave me a speech about how much he loved me and how he was doing something for me because I was special etc…I can’t even recall the words now. As I opened the box, I saw a pair of diamond earrings that matched my other 2 rings that he bought me after dday and I saw a photo copy of the diamond and emerald bracelet. I was in total shock. Not only was I dealing with the diamond earring issue, but I was having to deal with the very, expensive bracelet issue. I couldn’t say anything and I barely ate my dessert.
My mind was racing and I was triggering all over the place. I put the earrings on and he asked me if I wanted to go to the bathroom to look at them in the mirror…this was exactly the same conversation that he had with the OW when he gave her the diamond earrings 5 years ago. I really began to reel, then. I almost started to cry. (I know about their conversation because I read it in an email. Everything that I read is like a movie to me.)
We sat in deafening silence. My H paid the bill and left to get the car. My mind was spinning and none of my thoughts were even making logical sense. As we drove home, my H asked me to say something…my silence was killing him.
For me, I did not notice the silence, because the thoughts in my own head seemed to be screaming.
He told me that I could take the earrings off, which I did. What a relief! I felt like the weight of the world had been lifted off of my shoulders. I had felt imprisoned by the earrings.
I was now able to hear what he had to say and I was also free to speak. He began to apologize for buying the earrings. He felt so terrible and he felt so guilty. He was trying to please me and do something really nice for me. In his heart, he felt that I wanted those earrings.
It had been a few weeks earlier when I had been coerced by the salesclerk to try on the diamond earrings. This is jewelry store that we always frequent, so they know us. When the salesclerk initially wanted me to try on the earrings, I embarrassed myself with a rather explosive reaction and screamed "NO". It was in an effort to save face that I said, "sure, they are lovely, I will try them on. You all know how sales people are, so I agreed with everything that she said…they are beautiful…they are fabulous…they match my other jewelry…I look stunning in them…etc.
Well, guess who was taking this all in…my H. He believed my performance. I don’t remember having any big discussion with him after that day, but I did contact some of my friends from here and relayed the story to them and the trauma that I experienced on that day by just trying them on.
I should have made sure that my H knew my feelings. I should have told him everything that I was feeling, but I didn’t. I always preach about communication, communication, communication…but somehow I failed to practice what I had been preaching.
By now I am in a full blown cry in the car. My H pulls into a parking lot so that we can talk. I tell him how sorry I am for ruining his surprise. I tell him how guilty I am feeling for not being able to graciously accept his gift. I tell him how bad I feel for hurting him. I confess to him that I am not as far along as I thought I was. I confess to him that I have slipped back into my past behavior of not being able to accept things from him.
I am so angry at myself and I am so disappointed that I have been professing to everyone have far along I have come. Keep walking…isn’t that what I always say???? Suddenly, I am stopped dead in my tracks. The diamond earrings are blocking my path. I want to turn around…I want to take a detour. I cannot get past these 2 gigantic roadblocks. They are in a box at my feet…they are taunting me.
My H is telling me that he misinterpreted my actions in the jewelry store. He is feeling like a jerk. In his mind, he has hurt me again by his actions. He is telling me that he can take them back. He is telling me that he totally understands my feelings and will not be hurt by me not keeping them. He also told me that in no way was he trying to buy my love because he knew that I already loved him and he knew that I would have been happy receiving just a card.
He then starts pretending to have a conversation with our therapist and we both start laughing. We both think that the therapist will not approve of what he did and will tell him that he should have consulted him before taking this major step. We play acted for a while with this scenario and we were in stitches.
We came home and went upstairs to our bedroom and I put on my PJ’s and removed all of my other jewelry. I then put the earrings back on and begin to admire them in the mirror.
I must keep walking. I must keep walking.
My H asked me why I put them on and I told him that I think that I am going to keep them. We embraced and I laughingly told him that they were going to cost him an additional $500 because I may need 5 therapy sessions to be able to completely accept them!!!
We both laughed again and just held each other. I wore the earrings the rest of the night and they became quite comfortable. I no longer felt imprisoned by them. I was wearing them…they were not wearing me!!!
I wasn’t sure how this would end when I began writing this last night, but after sleeping on it. I have decided that I will keep both the bracelet and the DIAMOND EARRINGS!!! (In case you are wondering, the bracelet in the box was just a photo copy because the real bracelet was delayed in arriving. It should be in next week.)
I still have a lot to work on, as far as overcoming my hang up about accepting gifts, but I will continue trying. Anyone want to go shopping tomorrow???
Some of my recovery thus far has entailed "rewriting" history, so I intend to use this technique again. I am returning the earrings and the exact wrapping paper and ribbons to the jewelry store and when the bracelet actually comes in, I am going to have them rewrap everything just like before and give it to my H. We are going back to the same restaurant and we are going to sit at our same table and I am going to arrange with the owner to make Chicken Cilantro again.
My H is going to present the gifts again and I am going to open them and react the way that I should have reacted to begin with….excited and thrilled and gracious. My H is convinced that we will both end up laughing, but that is OK.
We have learned to laugh at a lot of things in these last 3 years. A sense of humor has always been a key part of my personality. It has helped me endure many things in my life. My journey is far from ending, but I have come a long way.
V day not only stands for Valentine’s Day, but it also stands for Victory Day!!! Today and everyday, I vow to be victorious!!! I will not be defeated. I will not be stopped dead in my tracks. I will not take a detour.
I will remove the roadblocks. I WILL KEEP WALKING and yes, I will be walking in style.
Please continue on and read the therapy portion.
During the therapy visit which was a few days after VD, Kevin and I discussed many aspects of our Vday fiasco and I would like to share some of the most important ones with you.
As our saga unfolded, the therapist actually said that Vday at the restaurant was a "triple whammy" for me. Because he knows me so well, he said, "You do NOT like surprises? You have difficulty accepting gifts and I know that you have an aversion to diamond earrings."